Unions lose Rio case

A Federal Court yesterday threw out a challenge to Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations non-union work place agreements.

A Federal Court yesterday threw out a challenge to Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations non-union work place agreements.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) which brought forward the challenge were disappointed with the decision, stating that it would consider a High Court appeal.

The court decision saw a rejection of the CFMEU’s challenge to the validity of Rio Tinto’s collective workplace agreements from 2008.

Despite the Labor Government putting an end to Australian Workplace Agreements, Rio still struck collective agreements that essentially mirrored the former AWAs.

According to The Australian, Rio iron ore chief Sam Walsh released a company wide note stating that “the Federal Court challenge appeared to be a step to destabilise the whole business for the purpose of enhancing the interests of the CFMEU.

“During the course of the court challenge, the CFMEU confirmed that one of its interests in having the agreement declared invalid was to enable it to pursue steps to commence industrial action against the business.

“Given that the CFMEU can only legally represent a small portion of our employees, and during the hearing confirmed they were representing only 31 employees out of the approximately 2000 employees the (agreement) currently applies to, the challenge to the safety net of employees across the business for the purpose of destabilising the whole business was particularly disappointing,” Walsh said.

He went on to say that Rio will continue to monitor all terms and conditions for employees on an ongoing basis and will make changes where necessary.

The CFMEU released a brief statement saying it would seek an appeal given the significance of the case.

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